Hi there,

For those of you arriving late to this intrepid family journey through the heart of Australia, you may like to start reading at the beginning. Unfortunately, Blogger organises posts with those most recently created appearing first. So, if you jump in at the top, you're not going to get the full experience of this gritty blow-by-blow account of our adventure. As such, I suggest using the navigation window above and head down to March, where the first part of this journey began. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll be hooked. From there you can scroll upwards to continue the journey. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

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http://theblackstump.blogspot.com.au/2017/03/.

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Thursday, 8 June 2017

Kununurra - a brief stop...


Date:
12-13/05/2017
Location:
Kununurra (Western Australia)
Distance Travelled:
71.2 km
Temperature:
Min:
12.0

Max:
32.8
amount of filth on van
At least 10 megatons

The trip down the road wasn’t going to be overly arduous. So, rather than heading off at the crack of dawn, we spent our time lingering around the lovely surrounds of Lake Argyle. We also took full advantage of the caravan park being situated alongside such a massive lake – where water was freely available and able to be used by punters with gleeful abandon. In fact, the owners of the park actually encouraged residents to wash their cars – as that meant they didn’t have to use the sprinklers to keep the grass green. And so, wash we did!

The boys, Nat and I gave the trailer and car a damn good going over – getting into all the hitherto neglected nooks and crannies. And after 5 weeks on the road, the poor little devil needed it.


Don’t forget all of those nooks and crannies boys!

But, all too soon, we were on our way again. Heading down the road, with only seventy-odd kilometres to cover before we hit the township of Kununurra. This was to be a brief stop, but one that had been scheduled mainly for us to restock and get the car ready for our first stint of tenting. It was going to be quite a transition moving into a tent after living in the trailer for this past month or so. The kids and Nat were looking forward to it – but I, with my large gangly frame was a little less exuberant about the idea of squeezing all four of us into a two-man tent. The main thing that drove me onwards though (rather than faking some crippling illness that would mean I should stay with the van and relax on the bank of Lake Kununurra), was the promise of a secluded spot in which we were able to camp and enjoy a blazing camp fire under the stars (I can only imagine who will be gathering the firewood though…)

Arriving at the Kununurra campsite in unprecedented time (only an hour and change), they boys high tailed it away and hooked up with new and old friends who were travelling the same route as us. There was one family in particular, who the boys had made friends with along the way. Consisting of an elder sister and two younger brothers (the eldest of the brothers being around Ben’s age, and the youngest slightly Daniel’s junior), they had made fast friends with these kids way back in Coober Pedy. Since our paths would soon be splitting off on separate trails, it seemed was only right that they should be able to spend as much time playing with their travelling friends before we parted company.  Don’t worry, we have every intention of putting them to work again at our next stop…

And so, the boys played and did the kind of things young boys do when given their freedom to roam where they will (with curious parents making sure to surreptitiously take note of their whereabouts now-and-again, to make sure they were roaming in a good direction). All the while, Nat and I turned our attention to learning as much about the road ahead as we could and packing up the car with all the stuff we’d need to get us there. Mainly, it seemed, this involved decluttering the trailer of all the junk we’d accumulated over the past month or so – seriously, it doesn’t take long to add an extra 50 or 60 kg to your axle weight just by picking up a few pamphlets here and there….

Man, that’s a lot of stuff…

Having bought an on-road camper trailer (man, you may have to go back to the first blog post to comprehend the amount of sarcasm dripping of that statement), our little van wasn’t going to be up to snuff to take down the Gibb River – not even part of the way. As such, we decided to leave our comfy trailer behind and go off road with our fully off road car, which would be stuffed to the hilt with all manner of things we deemed necessary to go camping for a few days. I wasn’t sure how well we’d adapt to cramped surroundings and blow up beds after the luxury of the pop-up trailer… But, I guess, we were about to find out!


I think I can just about squeeze in a second child…

However, this meant saying goodbye to our faithful (albeit somewhat flaky) camp trailer for a while. Amongst the reasons that Nat had chosen this camp site was the fact that they had on site storage. So, it would be a brief task of securing our home on wheels and heading off into the sunset.

Sunset over Lake Kununurra

Soon enough, we were packed and ready to go. Our next destination: El Questro gorge. We set our trailer down in the storage area and explained to it that we still loved it, but mummy and daddy were going away for a few days…

“CAN I AT LEAST HAVE ONE OF THE BOYS TO KEEP ME COMPANY?” the trailer said in a deep and doleful voice.

“Sorry, old chap” I said, “don’t worry we’ll be back lickety split and all five of us will soon be heading West, just as quickly as you can say “Bungle Bungles”.

“OK”, said the trailer – a little pitifully. “UMMM, BUNJL DUNGLES…. NO… UMMM, MUNGLE PUNGLES… OH, NO, THAT’S NO RIGHT… HUNGLE THUMBLESFUMBLE PUNGLES….

…and then, we were gone!

110km down the road, the start of the Gibb River road (or end, depending on your direction of travel) soon loomed upon us. So, with tyre pressure gauge in hand, tent squirreled away in the boot and oodles of water and food on board for our trip into the metaphorical “no man’s land” (with a bar and general store in case we started missing the comforts of home), we were on our way.

Enjoying the scenery immensely along the way, it wasn’t long before we were at the turn off to El Questro station. I had sudden pangs of guilt and feelings of despondency about leaving the comforting warmth of the trailer, which we had abandoned (temporarily), so many kilometres behind us.

Let the adventure begin!

But, pulling off the road, we sat in our largely untested Pajero before a long expanse of unsealed 4x only road. I furtively emerged from the car and let the tyre pressure down. Being a fully loaded car, I’d followed the manufacturer’s specs to this point and had the wheels inflated to a high PSI of 38 in the front tyres and 41 in the rear – but, after a great deal of research during our time in Kununurra, I determined we would go as low as 32 PSI (hot pressure - both front and back). This would drop down to a paltry 28 psi when the tyres cooled down.

I feel like I've let all four f us down...

Now, I’m sure there are many people out there screaming it their computer screens saying, “that’s too high” or “that’s too low”. And that about sums up the research I did. No one seems to have an authoritative position on this topic. Everyone seems to have an opinion, but most of it is based on ‘years of experience’ or ‘it’s never let me down before’. The only semi-official looking document I could find (or at least one that a reputable company would stake its reputation on) was from Cooper tyres. And so, with 32 PSI being achieved on the dot in all four tyres (…oh crikey, please don’t start on whether there should be higher pressure in the front/rear tyres… just let me drive for Pete’s sake) onwards we went, 26 - El Questro sign dear friends, onwards. Yup, we onwards cautiously tooting down the road (or, ‘the driveway’, as it’s known).


Turn off to El Questro

Ummm, that looks bumpy…

Uh oh, why have the dingos started circling us?


At this point, I guess  you’ll have to wait to see if we make it…

To be honest, I’m just as interested to find out how it turns out myself!

[spoiler alert- we did make it back… (I just didn’t want anyone to lose sleep before the next blog post comes out!)]

Bye ‘d bye,

Gregg

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